Before we get down to brass tacks, thanks if you’ve read and shared the article on scouting. Pretty comfortably the most read thing around these parts! If you’ve missed it, it’s here – Scouting Systems
After scraping through at the end of the prior season, improvement was expected both from board level, the team and the manager. So it was critical to get the transfer business done quickly and the team working on tactical familiarisation so we could hit the ground running.
A relatively long list but only a few were around the first team squad. Enzo Perez and Pablo Piatti were on a reasonable wicket but were ageing and replaceable. De Maio and Juankar were back ups with interest to cash in. Luigi Sepe was the only unplanned out but we recorded a solid profit as well as bring in an equivalent replacement.
The key signings were in on the first of July. Pasalic and Iturbe fill the spots of Perez and Piatti respectively. Velazquez should be a first choice centre half. The first choice squad was rounded out by a couple of loans and a back up keeper. Medeiros able to play in both advanced wing spots and Aouar as a shadow striker or central midfielder. Mert Gunok isn’t quite as skilled as Luigi Sepe but will be a solid back up.
- Mat Ryan – First choice, new contract signed in the summer.
- Mert Gunok – Back up.
- Ezequiel Garay (DC) – ageing central defender, on plenty of dough and out of contract at the end of the year. Probably his last go round in Valencia colours.
- Aymen Abdennour (DC) – first choice central defender
- Branimir Kalaica (DC) – struggled last year, needs to find consistency to be a first choice option
- Emiliano Velazquez (DC) – New signing, likely first choice.
- Figgy (DL) – another mid season signing that needs to show something
- Manuel Nicoletti (DL) – Out on loan last year, looks a better prospect than Figgy. Will push for first team games.
- Federico Mattiello (DR) – Mid season signing that performed well.
- Danilo D’Ambrosio (DR) – Back up only, can play on the left side as well
- Pepe Farajo / Mario Nunez – couple of kids from the youth set up not requiring registration, will add depth to the squad.
- Ergys Kace (DM) – The pick of the mid season signings, will be first choice. Breaks up play superbly.
- Carlos Soler (DM) – More of a playmaker than playbreaker, didn’t get a huge shot last year but looks a talent and will get opportunities this year.
- Alex Witsel (CM) – The star man and captain.
- Joan Jordan (CM) – Seems to be the back up option, some reasonable attributes with some time on his side.
- Mario Pasalic (CM) – Will be given plenty of opportunities next to Witsel.
- Joaquin Correa (ML/AML) – First choice on the left, either as a wide playmaker or inside forward.
- Nolito (ML/AML) – Busted his knee ligaments in February, out for nine months. Old.
- Ousmane Demebele (MR/AMR) – Star man out right, still young with plenty of development to come.
- Juan Iturbe (MR/AMR) – Back up option for Dembele, star of the FM16 series with Hellas Verona.
- Iuri Medeiros (AML/AMR) – On loan winger, backing up both sides.
- Roman Eremenko (AMC) – Hero of the last season. Will need to show something as a shadow striker as not quite a central midfielder.
- Houssem Aouar (AMC) – Looks a real talent, on loan.
- Michy Batshuayi (ST) – Talented, time on his side. Will have plenty of chance to lead the line.
- Suk Hyun-Jun (AMC/ST) – Can play up front or to his preference in the hole.
- Guillem Olivan / Filipe Oliveira (ST) – Couple of promising young forwards who’ll only play if Michy and Suk are both unavailable.
So with that all being said, the boys need a system on the park. We ended last season with this set up.
A few notes on this system
- The shadow striker role is critical. I’ve found that whilst they play with an attacking duty, you find them tracking back quite well and dropping back into the gap in the centre of midfield.
- The wide playermaker drifts centrally where there is space. Depending on the mix it can also be a winger.
- The DM strata is set to an anchorman here which is the defensive mode. Ergys Kace’s natural role is a ball winning role so depending on our approach to the game we mix it up.
- The defensive roles are changed depending on personnel preference with the duties of the full backs typically only changing if we are chasing the game.
- Overall it feels relatively balanced with the ability to shift defensively or offensively.
We’ve also dabbled with the following system. It’s pretty standard and worked in Portugal for me. It’ll be roughly where we need to be to progress as a club.
A few notes on this system
- We’ll mix and match the wide roles trying to maintain at least one wing role.
- Similar to the midfield roles, we’ll dabble with dual BBM, even a CM-S.
- The DM strata will depend on the player but it’ll mostly be a DLP-D with Carlos Soler or BWM-S for Ergys Kace.
- Both systems start with a Counter base. Understanding that this is a risk setting more than an approach, it means we are retaining the ball predominately and will be patient in the final third.
With a number of new faces and a couple of formations to learn, the plan was to rotate the systems and squads through the games. A relatively soft schedule was organised to build confidence, with a final game against Real Betis (Hispalis) to test progress. They had touched us up significantly last season and would be the type of team we’d need to go past.
It was a positive preseason and the performance in the final test was fine. It was time for the real stuff to start.